Born in Henrico County, Virginia, Snead graduated from Richmond College in 1846 and the University of Virginia in 1848 before studying law. He moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1850 and eventually became a newspaperman, serving as owner and editor of the St. Louis Bulletin from 1860 until February 1861. From February through early May 1861 Snead also acted as a (civilian) aide and secretary to Missouri Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson.
Upon the enactment of Missouri's May 1861 "Military Bill" Snead was appointed aide-de-camp to Governor Jackson and commissioned an officer in the Missouri State Guard. He participated in the Battles of Boonville, Carthage, Wilson's Creek, and Lexington during the fight against Union forces for control of the state. After the Missouri State Guard was merged into the Confederate Army, Snead served as chief of staff for General Sterling Price's Army of the West.
After the end of the war, Snead moved to New York City and worked as an editor for the Daily News from 1865 to 1867. He was admitted to the New York bar association in 1866. He wrote a book, The Fight for Missouri, which was meant to be the first volume in a history of the war's trans-Mississippi theater. The book was published by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1886. Snead died suddenly of heart disease at his home on October 17, 1890, at age 62. His body was returned to St. Louis and buried there in Bellefontaine Cemetery. He was survived by his wife, one son, and one daughter.
- "Obituary: Thomas L. Snead" (PDF). The New York Times. October 19, 1890. p. 3. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9C02E1DC1239E033A2575AC1A9669D94619ED7CF. Retrieved 2008-12-12.
- Snead, Thomas Lowndes (1886). The Fight for Missouri: From the Election of Lincoln to the Death of Lyon. New York: J.J. Little & Co.. p. (preface) v.
- There is some confusion about this period, with some reports indicating that Snead served as Adjutant General of the Missouri State Guard. In the preface of Fight for Missouri (p v) Snead specifically denies this, noting that career Army officer Lewis Henry Little actually filled this role.
- Alderman, Edwin Anderson; Charles William Kent, John Calvin Metcalf (1909). Library of Southern Literature. Martin and Hoyt Company. p. 5009. http://books.google.com/books?id=59EQAAAAYAAJ.
- Kestenbaum, Lawrence. "Thomas Lowndes Snead". The Political Graveyard. http://politicalgraveyard.com/bio/smythe-snelgrove.html#R9M0JDD4E. Retrieved 2008-12-12.
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